Yoga off the Mat

How yoga has changed me is an interesting question. It is a question that I really have to think about….

I ask myself another intriguing question – what is yoga “off the mat”? We practise patience, determination, concentration, calmness, etc “on the mat” in a yoga class. How then do we apply them when we are “off the mat”? Ponder….

Yoga has taught me to be less fearful of my own limitations. Fear hinders our pursuit of goals in life but it can be overcome. Fear is all in the mind (mind over body). In my opinion, the main obstacle in mastering inverted poses e.g. headstand is the fear of uncertainty and fear of falling. I had fallen many times (safely of course) from practising inversions. I still remember the bruises on my shoulders while falling from Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance). But every fall makes be better and stronger. I hope to find my balance in handstand soon…. :-D.

Press on….

Off the mat, I hope to conquer my phobia in public speaking.

Yoga has helped me to learn how to take time for myself, and to relax and breathe. Breathe through the difficult times as well as when you are just kicking back. It has given me a way of “going” inside myself to find my “higher” self. I can visualize things much better than before I started my yoga classes, and by doing this I can let go of the events that add stress to my life. Having less stress is something we all strive for and yoga has definitely helped me to learn how to de-stress.

I traveled to Bali (Ubud) alone two years ago for a short yoga retreat. That was the first time I traveled alone. I always think I am a “strong” person, having to deal with many teething and difficult issues at home alone most of the times. So I thought traveling alone should be a breeze for me. I cried a lot during the trip. 😛

I arrived at Bali an hour after midnight. A male driver picked me up at the airport. The journey to the guesthouse was the longest one I ever had. The roads were badly lit and I was alone with this guy who didn’t look like a decent man to me. I didn’t know where he was driving me to. I heaved a sign of relief when we finally arrived at the guesthouse around 2am. But my nightmare didn’t end there. Nobody was at the guesthouse to receive me! I thought “not another round of s**t?!”…fortunately the driver managed to contact the guesthouse owner. The driver didn’t leave me in the lurch. It was wrong of me to judge him (I have learnt not to judge and underestimate people from my years of yoga practice). I thought I could have a good rest finally (I was having a sore throat). I was disappointed when the owner brought me to my room. It didn’t have the basic items we normally find in hotel room e.g. drinking water. I didn’t feel safe in the room and couldn’t sleep the entire night. I felt lost and lonely the next day and wanted to go home. I sought assistance from the owner of the yoga studio (Megan) but was told there was no early flight back to Singapore. I started to cry uncontrollably when Megan sat down and talked to me. She gave me a warm hug and I felt safe despite not knowing her. Megan got a Singapore-based kundalini yoga teacher (Rebecca) to help me and I was transferred to the guesthouse where she was staying almost immediately at no extra cost. I attended yoga classes with strangers the next few days and walked around Ubud alone. Yoga gave me the determination and strength I needed to get through the difficult time in Ubud. It was a self-realization trip for me. Unforgettable….

Off the mat, I hope to be a stronger person, not physically, but mentally.

I am not sure I can put into words exactly how yoga has changed me, because it is a feeling. Peace, tranquility, tolerance of others, able to forgive and forget (who doesn’t make mistakes?), these are just some of the feelings I have and they have grown stronger since I began Yoga.

Yoga is a way of training for our mind and body to help us on this journey called “life”. I feel that is the real answer for me – Yoga is helping me on my journey, off and on the mat. 🙂